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Mumbai: 23-storey ATC has only 1 restroom for women

The tallest Air Traffic Control (ATC) in the country, which became functional in the city on January 1, is equipped with the latest technology in communications, navigation and surveillance (CNS) systems but has just a single washroom for its female staff.

The ATC includes the control tower, approach, area control, ocean control and briefing unit. All these units are handled by around 600 staff members, out of which 20 are women. File pic
The ATC includes the control tower, approach, area control, ocean control and briefing unit. All these units are handled by around 600 staff members, out of which 20 are women. File pic

The towering ATC, which was inaugurated in October last year, is a 23-storey 83.8-metre high tower. It is surprising that this ATC, which is over 20 metres higher than the old structure, has only one restroom for women, which is on the fifth floor.

This, even though 20 women work in its premises, in shifts. The ATC has 10 controllers and 12 engineers working on any given shift, in each of which there are at least two female staffers. Working during night shifts has become a problem for these female staffers, as they need to go down or up to the fifth floor, in order to get to the restroom.

A staff member from the ATC said, “Female colleagues generally try to avoid the night shifts, as they do not prefer going up and down to get to the washroom. There is a unisex washroom on the eighteenth floor, but with a majority of men working in the tower, it gets uncomfortable for them. And so they are forced to go 15-18 storeys up or down the tower, just to visit the restroom.”

Another staff member added, “Since the entire staff works in shifts at the ATC, it gets silent during the night. Instead of moving from the top floors to the fifth floor when it’s so quiet at night, they prefer to work in the day shift.”

An officer also added that the ATC had no additional space to construct any kind of restrooms and washrooms. The ATC includes the control tower, approach, area control, ocean control and briefing unit. All these units are handled by around 600 staff members, out of which 20 are women.

State of the art
The new tower is otherwise equipped with latest technology, including electronic flight strips to improve the overall capacity of the airport and reduce the workload of the controller. It was built at a cost of around Rs 1.25 billion and has an uninterrupted five-mile, 360-degree view of the surroundings, for better navigation and surveillance.

The other side
AK Sharma, the general manager of Airports Authority of India, said, “We haven’t started posting women in the night shifts in the new ATC till date. The new ATC has a restroom and washroom on the fifth and the eighteenth floors, about which we have received no complaints.

We take care that no female staffer feels insecure while she is working, and hence never post a woman alone in the shift. Any shift consists of 20 staff members. Hence, there is no question of the female staff’s inconvenience.”

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